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Life Lessons Left Behind By Cyclone FANI


19 May 2019

Shailaja Mohapatra


Bhubaneswar: It has been a fortnight after FANI and life is slowly inching towards normalcy. Broken electric poles, bent mobile towers, damaged asbestos houses and uprooted trees keep reminding the citizens of the catastrophic day. However, amidst this havoc, many will agree that they have learnt something valuable which they might not have understood otherwise. Along with a trail of destruction, here are some lessons left behind by Cyclone FANI:

Conservation of Water- Every Drop Counts:

Do we really need to keep the tap running while brushing our teeth? Do we really need to take showers? Is a bucket bath not enough? Cyclone FANI made us think about this.

The importance of water is understood only when it’s not available in abundance. Cyclone FANI along its course, made the victims think, about a life without water. It not only taught us how to manage the limited water, but also the amount of water that is actually required for a day-to-day use. When the water came with a cost, i.e. usage of rented generators up to Rs 3000/hour to operate the motors, the gravity of the situation was understood.

Conservation of Electricity- The Power Of Power:

Due to FANI, over 10,000 distribution transformers were damaged resulting in complete darkness of Bhubaneswar and Puri. The heat wave in the absence of electricity added to the plight of the people.

What can now be noted is the development of sustainable use of electricity by the people at homes, post FANI. Presently, citizens are cautious of not switching on lights and fans in empty rooms. Decorative lights of palatial houses are also being kept off. Keeping Air Conditioners (ACs) functional for 24 hours has also become rare. After FANI, when inverters ran out of charge and generators came at whopping costs, people became aware of the precious resource that is ‘power’.

Conservation of Green Cover- Trees Are Our Best Friends:

Over 22 lakh trees have been damaged due to the cyclone. To put the damage into perspective, the green cover lost was worth Rs 537 crore.

The plantation in Bhubaneswar, Puri and Cuttack has taken a huge toll. Ancient trees that looked strong and sturdy were also uprooted in the storm. The remnants of the destruction of the green bed are scattered around the city. The increasing temperature can be felt even more, due to the absence of trees and the shade provided by them. It also cost the city its charming beauty and cool evening breeze. This destruction was a reminder to the people to plant more trees and conserve nature.

Human Connectivity- Leading Offline Lives:

Today, people cannot imagine a day without their phones and other gadgets. The meaning of connectivity has changed over the years, where there is no personal interaction, even between neighbours staying alongside. But FANI’s damage brought dependence within the people and the importance of non-virtual interaction was understood.

Post May 3, people formed long-lasting bonds with their relatives and next door neighbours. With no connectivity or charge in mobile phones, human connections increased as kids came out of their houses to have fun in the evening, cousins gathered to play Ludo, children spent time with elders and teenagers chatted with their family members. And finally, the essence of going offline was recognized.

Resilience Of Real Heroes:

The Cyclone-hit people are grateful for the services rendered by members of Odisha Police, ODRAF, NDRF, OPTCL, CESU, BMC, Anganwadi and other agencies, in restoring normalcy by toiling under scorching Sun. And at the same time, every citizen too battled the Cyclone bravely.

Many Good Samaritans also came out to render support to those living in slums. Extending a helping hand, these citizens offered help with water and food to the less privileged. Many communities have also started the initiative of free kitchen and distributing of relief materials in the worst-affected Puri.

In the meantime, people have gathered the broken parts, put themselves together and are now trying to move on with their daily routines, despite the aftermath that is clearly visible in the surroundings. The roads that were deserted on May 3 are now packed. Blaring horns have overshadowed the eerie silence left behind by the storm.

Truly, each and every one of us has merged as a resilient hero after Cyclone FANI.